CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The United Auto Workers announced a tentative deal with Daimler late Friday night covering thousands of workers at plants in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. 

What You Need To Know

  • The United Auto Workers and Daimler have reached a tentative deal covering thousands of workers in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee

  • UAW President Shawn Fain announced the agreement late Friday night

  • The deal came a week after workers in Tennessee overwhelmingly voted for the first Southern auto union outside of the Big Three automakers

UAW President Shawn Fain addressed workers live on Facebook at nearly 11 p.m. shortly before a contract with the Mercedes-Benz-owned company was set to expire.

Daimler workers will get at least a 25% pay increase over four years, including a 10% raise immediately when the deal is ratified, Fain said. He hailed the contract as a “major victory for the members who build Freightliner and Western Star trucks and Thomas Built buses.”

It will end wage tiers, he said, enabling workers who make trucks and those who make buses to receive equal pay. He said the lowest-paid workers, who make buses at Thomas Built, which has its headquarters in High Point, N.C., will get pay bumps of over $8 an hour.

Fain said the four-year deal includes profit sharing and a cost of living adjustment to protect workers against inflation.

Daimler Truck North America said in a statement that the deal covers 7,400 employees at manufacturing and component facilities in High Point, the Mount Holly truck manufacturing plant, Cleveland truck manufacturing plant, Gastonia parts plant, Atlanta parts distribution center and Memphis parts distribution center.

“The UAW members at these locations will now be asked to vote on the new contracts, and we hope to finalize them soon, for the mutual benefit of all parties,” Daimler stated. 

The UAW says its workers face declining real wages as the cost of living increases. "Daimler's profits have increased by 90% while workers' buying power has fallen 13%," the UAW said in a press release.

The agreement comes after a month of negotiations with the company. Daimler workers had voted by 96% to authorize a strike.

Fain was joined in Charlotte by the UAW Daimler Truck North America Bargaining Committee for the livestreamed address.

The UAW filed four unfair labor practice charges against Daimler on Tuesday. The charges allege, among other things, that the company retaliated and discriminated against union members, interfered with workers' right to organize and has not bargained with the UAW in good faith.

"Daimler Truck thinks it can intimidate us by trampling on our rights," said UAW DTNA Council President Kenny Dellinger in a press release. "These unfair labor practice charges are a necessary step. It’s time for Daimler Truck to get serious about negotiating a record contract without violating the law." 

All of this comes on the heels of a historic victory for the UAW. Workers from a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, overwhelmingly voted April 19 to join the UAW, becoming the first Southern autoworkers outside of the Big Three (General Motors, Ford and Stellantis) to win a union. 

North Carolina has the second lowest unionized rate in the country, followed closely by Georgia at sixth and Tennessee at 13th. 

Workers at Mercedes factories near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the 18th least unionized state, could become the next Southern factory to join the UAW. An election is set for May. 

Six Southern Republican governors, including Tennessee's, Georgia's and South Carolina's, signed onto a statement on the eve of the union vote in Chattanooga, saying that unions would be a detriment to manufacturing in their states and lead to job cuts. 

The UAW won 25% raises for autoworkers in Detroit last year. With cost of living increases, the raises will reach 33% by the end of those contracts.